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March 11, 2010

"Rethinking Crime — Again"

The title of this post is the headline of this fantastic new commentary on crime and punishment from John J. Di Iulio, Jr. appearing in the journal Democracy.  The piece is a must-read for anyone interesting in crime realities and punishment policies, and it includes a final big section recommending "Six Steps to Zero Prison Growth" that include getting rid of mandatory minimum sentencing terms and considering marijuana legalization.  And here is how the piece concludes:

America has long experienced unacceptable levels of crime, including predatory violence by and against our youth and young adults.  And there is no denying that, 16 years into a national crime drop, the levels remain unacceptable in absolute terms and higher than they were in the early 1960s.  But there are better ways to measure crime and better ways to meet that half-century-old crime challenge.  After growing at an average annual rate of 6.5 percent during the 1990s, the prison population has grown at an average annual rate of 1.8 percent since 2000.

But prison populations need not grow at all over the next decade if Washington policymakers act soon to usher in more humane and cost-effective crime policies.  Americans need not continue to purchase such safety as they enjoy by forsaking freedom for themselves and depriving it to others. We can instead reclaim for ourselves, for our children and grandchildren, and for the children and families of prisoners and ex-prisoners, such lost social and civic luxuries as unlocked front doors, lone late-night walks wherever you please, and everyday life lived among friends and fellow citizens in real American communities.  Call the new federal crime bill "The Zero Prison Growth, Youth Violence Prevention, and Compassionate Drug Policy Act of 2010."  And let the next, and best, crime drop in modern American history begin.

March 11, 2010 at 03:49 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Professor Di Iulio has been a leading voice in the study of crime and delinquency for the last two decades.

He was one of the first to argue that paying to keep a typical felon in prison was a positive social investment after one takes into account the societal harm caused by their incidence of criminality. With the above commentary, he appears to have come nearly full circle. His 3M's of correction-Monitoring, Mentoring, Ministering reflect that belief.

He also coined the concept of "Moral Poverty"-the poverty of being w/o parents and other authorities who love and support you-as an explanation of crime and delinquency. Given the above insight, it is curious that Di Iulio does not mention the instrumental role of the inner-city non-marital birthrate. With non-marital births nearing 70%, poverty-both moral and financial-is a given. With no working male in the home as a role-model, no amount of mentoring or ministering will have an appreciable effect. Unfortunately,inner-cities will remain places to avoid until this plague is ameliorated.

Posted by: mjs | Mar 11, 2010 10:21:41 PM

This is another left wing academic, seeking to loose vicious predators on minority neighborhoods.

He fails to mention child hood obesity. No mention of crippling video game addiction. Half the criminals are murdered by other criminals. There is a 50% rate of self-help death penalty. Any formal penalty enacted would be to execute the 50% who have killed the other 50%. No mention of Walmart, where products are so cheap, anyone can buy them without resorting to theft. The feminist lawyer has feminized the American male. He is too much of a pussy to commit crimes. Plus the poor are so filthy rich, there is little point to making an effort to hit someone over the head for the $50 in their wallets.

The enterprising delinquents who get off their rears are doing much better than most of the readers here. The lawyer has seen to it that crime still pays handsomely for those willing to put in a little effort.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 12, 2010 7:21:09 AM

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